Consider affordability, needs in managing healthcare costs: Panel

Consumers have been urged to think about the important issues of affordability and their needs when managing their healthcare costs.

Five panellists on a Straits Times Roundtable this week that tackled the topic of healthcare also agreed that more collaboration and shared responsibility among stakeholders are central to keeping healthcare affordable and effective.

The theme at the Tuesday roundtable session was "Sustainable Healthcare".

The five panellists were: Mr Mack Eng, head of medical at Prudential; Dr Jeremy Lim, partner and head, health and life sciences practice, Asia Pacific at Oliver Wyman; Dr Carol Tan, a geriatric specialist and chairman of The Good Life Cooperative; Mr Chye Pang Hsiang, principal consulting actuary, Milliman; and Ms Pauline Lim, executive director at Life Insurance Association.

The session, sponsored by insurer Prudential, was moderated by Sunday Times Invest editor Lorna Tan.

The experts touched on topics such as how higher costs affect medical insurance, what insurers and doctors can do to mitigate these increases and what policyholders should look out for when buying Integrated Shield plans.

Mr Eng said that it is "important that consumers review their healthcare needs and plans regularly, given the current rising medical costs environment".

Private healthcare costs have been rising at 18 per cent per year.

Dr Tan stressed the need to change one's approach to healthcare. She said that in healthcare insurance, "there are actually three words in it - health, care and insurance". She added: "It's not illness care. But the way we structure and talk about healthcare, it's about what you do when you're already sick. In many other countries, they adopt the healthcare approach where you go from cradle to grave, and you actually start to work with your patients, citizens, policyholders, on how to keep them out of hospitals."

• Look out for more reports on the ST Roundtable in The Sunday Times this weekend.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'Consider affordability, needs in managing healthcare costs: Panel'. Print Edition | Subscribe